Hyderabad, June 29: Two senior GAIL officials have been suspended in connection with the gas pipeline leak that set off an inferno in an Andhra Pradesh village on Friday, and whose toll rose to 20 today.
A GAIL statement said the suspended officials were “in charge of regional operations and maintenance of the pipeline network”.
Asutosh Karnatak, director (projects) of the state-run Gas Authority of India Ltd that owns and maintains the pipelines, exonerated the lower-level staff saying their timely reaction had averted greater damage.
Villagers in Nagaram, East Godavari district, had alleged that their complaints of gas leak on Thursday night had fallen on deaf ears although there had been another leak three days earlier, which was followed by apparently patchy repairs.
Karnatak today handed over the compensation cheques — Rs 20 lakh for each death and Rs 50,000 per injured — to the district collector.
Police yesterday slapped a fresh case against GAIL under sections dealing with death by negligence, causing grievous hurt by an act endangering life or personal safety, and negligent conduct with explosive substances.
Karnatak said GAIL would build housing for those left homeless by the blast and fire, triggered apparently by an unsuspecting tea vendor’s attempt to light a stove.